One local family says after years of searching they thought they finally bought the perfect home. But it turned into a financial and emotional disaster after they discovered a toxic secret lurking behind their walls. 7’s Hank Phillippi Ryan Investigates.
“Everything was gutted down to the studs,” Jennifer said.
Jennifer’s dream home is now an empty shell.
When Jennifer and her husband bought the house, it had just been renovated with a hip and modern look.
“This was our beautiful, finished family room when we moved in,” Jennifer said.
But earlier this year they had to put their belongings in storage and move out.
“It’s heartbreaking,” Jennifer said.
All because they found toxic mold behind the walls of their home.
“It was devastating. Each wall, every drywall seam paper had a variety of toxic mold on it. They found toxic mold above our bedroom, this entryway, the fireplace area,” Jennifer said.
Jennifer had a home inspection done before buying the property. The inspector didn’t find any issues. But he couldn’t look behind the walls.
She filed a claim on their homeowners insurance but it was denied.
The insurance company ruled the mold was in the house before they bought it.
“It was a tough decision to hear,” Jennifer said.
We found in Massachusetts if sellers know about mold issues, they don’t have to tell the buyers.
“It’s tough to prove if someone knew or didn’t know, but the fact that it doesn’t have to be disclosed is concerning,” Jennifer said.
Real estate attorneys say that’s surprising but true.
The state only requires sellers to disclose two things to potential buyers: the presence of lead paint or a septic system.
“Sellers are under no obligation to tell you whether the property has any mold issues, termite issues, whether they had a massive flood or a fire in the past,” Noel Di Carlo said.
Jennifer says if they had known about the mold, they never would have bought the house. Now she and her husband have racked up two hundred thousand dollars in debt trying to remove it.
She says at one point they were a paycheck away from being homeless.
“I would never want to see this happen to anyone else,” Jennifer said.
So, if you’re in the market for a house, remember this, if you ask a seller specific questions they are required to answer honestly. But you have to ask. Experts say talk to your closing attorney about any concerns before buying a home so they can also try to get answers.
For more information:
Massachusetts Real Estate Laws
What Single-Family and Condo Buyers Need to Know
The Massachusetts Association of Realtors shared this information with 7 News:
Skeleton Disclosure: https://www.marealtor.com/skeleton-disclosure/
Stigmatized Properties Disclosure: https://www.marealtor.com/stigmatized-properties-disclosure-of-certain-stigmas/
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